Make Your Voice Heard!

Hello Advocates!

Do you or someone you love get services through waivers like ICWP, NOW, COMP, SOURCE or CCSP? If so, it’s critical to make your voice heard today.

A federal rule (released in 2014), called the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Settings Rule, sets standards for all providers of HCBS services. The rule requires that all people getting HCBS services have full lives with their families, friends, and neighbors, fully integrated into their communities. Georgia just released their final Statewide Transition Plan (STP), which is Georgia’s blueprint for helping settings across the state comply with the new rule by 2022.

The final draft of Georgia’s STP is now ready for public comment! Unfortunately, we have serious concerns with the information included in the final plan, and we need advocates like YOU to provide your feedback!

First – Learn about what the HCBS Settings rule requires. Here are some resources to help you understand the basics:

Think about the services that you/your family member receive and how those services do or do not meet the rule’s requirements.
Second – Look at Georgia’s new plan at

Third -- Share your suggestions and any changes you would make if you were writing the STP. You can share your suggestions by emailing [email protected] , faxing them to 404-656-8366, or mailing them to the Department of Community Health, 2 Peachtree Street, N.W., 37 th Floor, Atlanta, Georgia 30303, ATTN: REBECCA DUGGER. 

*To assist self-advocates, GAO created a simple form you can complete if you receive home and community based services:

The deadline to share your thoughts is March 16, 2020.

Here are a few of our current concerns regarding Georgia’s STP:

  • Georgia is required to provide notice and seek public input on their plan. Georgia has done minimal work to notify the public that this plan was on their website and the public comment period was open.

  • Aside from this notice, were you informed about this plan and the public comment period?

  • Did you know that there was a public hearing scheduled on February 20th to allow the public to comment on the plan?

  • If your answer is ‘no’, it might be helpful to include this in your public comment!

  • The rule requires Georgia to look at each setting receiving HCBS and decide if they meet the rule’s requirements. A self-assessment by a provider by must validated (confirmed) by the state in another way. The provider self-assessments that Georgia used are insufficient and do not include the questions necessary to determine if providers are actually meeting the requirements of the rule (e.g., community integration and control of daily schedule).

  • Georgia determined that the vast majority of its current settings, including large congregate settings and sheltered workshops, are ALREADY fully compliant with the settings rule. It is important to comment if your setting (both where you live or where you receive services during the day) does not:  

  • Allow you to make choices in your daily life (such as what you want to do and with whom), choose what you want to eat and when, choose if you want a roommate and who it will be, allow you to decorate your room, and allow you to have visitors when you want 

  • Give you a choice of what services you want and who provides them, including a choice of a “non-disability setting” meaning the choice to live in your own home/apartment and get services in the community or work in a community job

  • Respect your rights, including allowing you to lock your door, have privacy, not use coercion or restraints

  • The rule requires Georgia to identify settings that are “presumptively institutional.” These are settings that are (1) in an institution (like assisted living in a nursing home); (2) on the grounds or adjacent to a public institution (like a group home or day program on the grounds of a state hospital); or (3) settings that isolate individuals receiving HCBS from the broader community. These settings must be closely examined by the state, as part of a process known as “heightened scrutiny.” If the state believes that the settings can fully meet the rules, they must put together a package of evidence to submit to the federal government. Georgia identified ZERO settings that would meet heightened scrutiny, including ZERO settings that isolate. Virtually all other states have identified such settings.

  • If you have specific examples of settings you believe should be identified as presumptively institutional and receive a heightened scrutiny review, please provide the names of those sites (or those types of settings) in your public comment.

Please email Dr. Alyssa Lee , GCDD’s Public Policy Research and Developmental Director, with any questions!